Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a roughly 5-percent lead over his presidential run-off opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu on Sunday, according to preliminary returns from Turkish news agencies.
Erdogan led with 52.3 percent of the vote compared to Kilicedaroglu’s 47.7 percent, according to the Associated Press. It comes weeks after Erdogan narrowly missed an outright win during the country’s presidential elections on May 14, where he held 49.5 percent of the vote.
If Erdogan wins, he will extend his 20-year tenure as Turkey’s leader by an additional five. He previously served as the country’s prime minister before that position was abolished, and he has been the country’s president since 2014.
The runoff is the first in Turkey’s history. In multiple polls leading up to the initial election, Kilicedaroglu proved to be Erdogan’s fiercest competitor throughout his presidential career.
During his 20 years, Erdogan helped push the country to join the European Union (a process that stalled in 2019), but he has since led the country down a conservative path that has suppressed some civil liberties and has led critics to argue he has eroded democratic institutions, including by spearheading the abolition of the country’s parliamentary system in 2017.
Erdogan’s win would also come weeks after Turkey asked Twitter to suppress certain tweets in the run-up to the election, a move critics said was designed to censor the opposition to improve Erdogan’s electoral standing. Twitter CEO Elon Musk said at the time that the move was his only option to prevent Twitter from being “throttled in its entirety” in Turkey.
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